Fernando Alonso has taken advantage of the wet conditions in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix to match his best grid position of the year for tomorrow’s race, live on NBC from 11am ET.
The Spaniard has struggled all season long with the Ferrari F138 car, causing him to lag behind Sebastian Vettel and subsequently lose the championship to the German driver in India last month. However, with the wet conditions appearing to bring the field closer together in Brazil, Alonso was able to battle through the spray to finish in third place behind Vettel and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.
“We know that in wet conditions normally we improve a little bit our performance,” Alonso said after qualifying. “We were waiting for some wet races this year but it came only in Brazil, but I have mixed feelings to be honest.
“Up on the grid, finally, because we start between seventh and tenth in the last five or six grands prix which is not ideal, so first three is good but not totally happy with my lap.”
Alonso explained that a mistake at turns four and five caused him to lose a good deal of time that would have allowed him to secure his first front row start since the 2012 German Grand Prix.
“I lost a lot of time, not obviously to beat Seb, he is too far in front of us, but I think for second place was not difficult. I lost something like seven or eight tenths in turn four running over the paint area and losing a lot of time there. It could be possible but I’m obviously not sad with third, and all the opportunities in front of us for tomorrow’s race starting up at the front.”
The Spaniard will be Ferrari’s best hope of beating Mercedes in the race for second place in the constructors’ championship, with the Italian marque staring down the barrel of a fifteen-point deficit heading into the final race of the season.
Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.
Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.
On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.
One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.
After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.
The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.
Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.
“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.
“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”
But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.
“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.
“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”
Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.
“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.
“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”
The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.